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  Britons and Caledonians

The Britons are the group of tribes on the large island of Britain before and during the Roman occupation. In 300 BCE the Greek traders called it Prettanike, and the Romans later called it Megale Brettania (Great Britain) to contrast it with what is now Ireland - they called that Micra Brettania (Little Britain). The north-west of France is home to britons who fled from invasions and is called Bretagne (Brittany), but is not part of Britain except by shared history and culture.

Many scholars argue that britons and picts are part of the same gene pool, but have different language origins reflecting long separation in the distant past. The Britons are also known as the Brythonic Celts.

Peter Salway considers the Caledonians to have consisted of indigenous Pictish tribes augmented by fugitive Brythonic resistance fighters fleeing from Roman Britannia (the south). The Caledonii tribe, after which the historical Caledonian Confederacy is named, may have been joined in conflict with Rome by tribes in northern central Scotland by this time, such as the Maeatae, Vacomagi, Taexali and the Venicones recorded by Ptolemy.

Roman historians used the word Caledonii not only to refer to the Caledonii themselves (one of the many tribes in Scotland then), but also to any of the other tribes (both Pictish or Brythonic) living north of Hadrian's Wall. This may be because the whole group, in opposition to the Romans, were led at times by Caledonii in signing peace treaties with Romans such as Ulpius Marcellus.

By a round 300 CE there is no further reference to Caledonians, and they appear to have been replaced by the Broch-building northerners Picts and Britons (see broch at right).

All of these tribal groups are ancestors to the more recent Scottish clans.
Their genes as well as their tribal lands form the earliest basis of later Scots society.